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Ultimate Guide To Achieving Great Looking Commercial Hard Floors

Ultimate Guide To Achieving Great Looking Commercial Hard Floors

Everything you need to know to build a comprehensive hard floor care program that will keep your resilient flooring protected and looking its best.

No matter the type of commercial hard floor you have installed in your facility, a well put together floor care program is essential to your bottom line, overall facility cleanliness, and appearance.

Floorcare, including regular cleaning, periodic maintenance, and restorative procedures, take up about 80% of your cleaning team’s time and use up about 80% of your cleaning budget.

Given the intensive labor and high costs, you can see why it’s important to make sure you have all of the right tools, supplies, and equipment.

That said, a good program is made up of several components. The right tools and innovative equipment are just a couple of the very important things you need to have in order to achieve your desired results. Other key things to consider include incorporating the most up-to-date procedures, how and who will train your staff, and which processes will be right for your floor care program so you can ultimately do more with your budget.

A comprehensive and well-planned hard floor program will account for the unique needs of your commercial hard floor to preserve the shine of your floor finish, protect your facility’s flooring, and keep it clean.

It can be overwhelming to build and implement an effective hard floor maintenance program from scratch, or even simply update your current hard floor care program, given all the different things you need to consider.

So, you’re probably wondering where to start.

For most, budget will likely play the largest role in determining what commercial cleaning supplies, tools, janitorial cleaning equipment, and procedures will be a part of your program to maintain your floors. However, available resources and facility goals will also affect how you ultimately round out your commercial hard floor maintenance program.

In this guide, we’re going to provide you with everything you need to know to keep your facility’s floors protected, maintain cleanliness, and make cleaning easier for your janitorial staff. This guide also covers the key components of a hard floor maintenance program, including the tools, equipment, and procedures you need to keep your commercial floors looking their best.

  • Chapter 1: How to Build a Great Hard Floor Care Program 
  • Chapter 2: What Supplies Do I Need to Maintain My Commercial Floors?
  • Chapter 3: When To Restore Resilient Hard Floors
  • Chapter 4: How Do I Keep My Commercial Hard Floors Looking Great?
  • Chapter 5: How To Troubleshoot Common Floor Care Problems
  • Chapter 6: Accounting For Seasonal Changes in Your Hard Floor Care Program
  • Chapter 7: The Secret to Ensuring Your Cleaning Team knows How To Care for Your Commercial Floors
  • Appendix
  • What’s Next?

If you don’t have time to read the full guide now, you can download it here!

CHAPTER 1: How to Build a Great Hard Floor Care Maintenance Program

Before we get into the details of a hard floor care program, it is important to understand that floor maintenance procedures are centered around the finish on your floors, not the actual floor type.

PRO TIP: A hard floor care program is designed to maintain floor finish NOT the actual floor tiles. 

Commercial hard floors are coated with a floor finish, sometimes referred to as floor wax, that protects your floors from dirt, scratches, spills, and damage from foot traffic.

PRO TIP: While commonly referred to synonymously, floor finish and floor wax are technically two different products. In this guide, we are referring to floor finish, the product applied in layers that coats your resilient floors.

What is the Purpose of a Hard Floor Care Program?

A hard floor care program outlines how to care for the floor finish on your floors, and also acts as a guide for your janitorial team on how to clean, protect, prevent damage, and repair your floors.

With the right program, you can keep your floors looking great, while keeping them protected from damage and extending its overall life.

There are three separate maintenance phases to a hard floor care program.

Each phase takes place during a different timeframe and utilizes different procedures to clean, protect, and restore your floors for maximum life.

What are the Three Components of a Floor Care Program? 

The three phases of a floor maintenance program are:

  1. Daily/Routine Maintenance
  2. Periodic Maintenance
  3. Restorative Maintenance

We’ll dive deeper into each of these three phases of a hard floor program and what’s included over the next few chapters.

What Should I Consider When Building My Commercial Hard Floor Care Program?

Before you can actually begin building a hard floor care program, there are some things to consider to make sure you can achieve your desired goals.

Ultimately, the most important factors that will influence how you create your maintenance program will depend on your:

  1. Goals
  2. Budget
  3. Resources

You will need to assess each of these factors so that you can determine which has the greatest influence on your program.

For example, you may have limited staff, requiring you to prioritize staffing issues when creating your program. This may mean that even though you want to clean your floors every day, it’s not possible given the amount of labor you have available. Similarly, if you have a low budget, you likely won’t be able to afford daily cleaning.

Some questions to ask yourself before building your floor maintenance program are:

  • What are your expectations for your floors? 
  • What can you realistically afford?
  • How many man-hours can you allot to floor care each day?
  • What resources (tools, products, and equipment) do you have access to? What resources can you afford to add?

What are your expectations for your floors?

You may desire extremely high gloss, high shine floors in your facility. However, based on your budget, man-hours, and other constricting factors this might not be realistic or affordable.

Given this, you might explore floor finishes that offer adequate shine and allow your cleaning team to easily maintain it.

Labor Costs


What can you realistically afford?

The type of floor finish that you have on your floors will dictate the amount of labor and maintenance your cleaning staff will need to complete.

As a result, if you have a small budget you might select a finish that requires minimal maintenance to keep costs down.

How many man-hours can you allot to floor care each day?

Labor is expensive. As we mentioned above, floor care can take up as much as 80% of your cleaning team’s time.

You’ll need to evaluate your janitorial team and which members can be allocated to floor care without taking time away from other important cleaning tasks like cleaning and disinfecting or restroom care.

However, there are many ways to lower the amount of time your janitorial staff spends on floor care.

For example, the floor finish you choose for your floors will determine how many man-hours are required from your janitorial staff. If you choose a more durable floor finish, your cleaning team will be able to spend less time on floor maintenance than if you choose a high maintenance floor finish.

Other ways to offset needing more man-hours to complete floor maintenance include integrating innovative floor cleaning products, equipment, and tools, like automatic floor scrubbers or autonomous floor cleaning equipment into your program.

Mop Bucket and Wringer


What resources (tools, products, and equipment) do you have access to?

What resources can you afford to add?

Your budget will determine what resources are available to you.

Manual cleaning methods, like mop and bucket cleaning, dust mopping, and wet mopping are all effective, but using automated cleaning equipment can significantly reduce labor costs by speeding up the process and providing better, more consistent results.

Answering these questions will help give you a better understanding of the hard floor care procedures you can afford to complete. The next thing to consider while building your commercial floor care program is the cleaning goals your facility is working towards.

What are your facility’s cleaning goals?

An important part of creating or updating your facility’s hard floor program is assessing your facility’s goals for your commercial hard floors.

There are several different goals you may have for your facility’s floors but, some of the most common goals include:

  • Enhance Facility Appearance 
  • Improve Sustainability Practices
  • Increase Occupant Health and Safety 

By knowing your goals for your cleaning program, you can prioritize what is most important to you and identify how to best achieve them. Understand that you may have more than one goal. Often, companies will. However, you’ll need to prioritize which is the most important so you can appropriately allocate time, money, and resources.

Enhance Facility Appearance

Nothing is worse than a dirty facility. Your floors are the first thing your guests see when they enter your building, so clean, shiny floors may be your number one goal.

Shiny Burnished Floor

A good hard floor maintenance program is instrumental to keeping your floors in great condition.

Practices like cleaning your entryway matting and dust mopping will remove dirt from your floors and minimize damage caused by the daily traffic that your facility receives.

Not only will the shine of your floor finish be preserved for longer, but your floors will be covered in less dust, dirt, and other contaminants that may be tracked in by your guests.

Improve Sustainability Practices

Becoming more sustainable is an increasingly popular goal whether you are trying to lower your ecological footprint, meet LEED certification guidelines, improve customer or guest satisfaction, or adhere to new governmental regulations.

Green building 1

By using sustainable practices, products, and equipment, your facility can conserve water, lower energy usage, and/or reduce waste production.

Some ways you can incorporate sustainability boosting practices in your hard floor care program include:

  • Switching to a chemical-free finish removal process will eliminate the need for harsh floor strippers.
  • Adding or upgrading to more sustainable equipment, like orbital scrubbers can lower the amount of water and chemicals your facility uses by up to 70%.
  • Eco-friendly floor cleaning products can be third-party certified (such as Ecologo, FSC, and Green Seal) to indicate that they have been tested and proven better for the environment.

Increase Occupant Health and Safety

The health and safety of the people in your building is important. Your goal in building a hard floor care program may be to increase the overall health and safety of the people in your building.

In creating or updating your hard floor care program, you should consider the effects that the tools, products, and equipment that you include will have on your building occupants.

health and safety

Some of the commercial floor cleaning products you include in your floor maintenance program can emit VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs can have negative effects on the people in your building, like eye, nose, and throat irritation.

Knowing the best way to use these commercial cleaning products can reduce the chances of exposing your building occupants to any VOCs.

Another way to reduce the health risks that your floor maintenance program poses to the people in your building is to use janitorial equipment during cleaning.

For example, using vacuums equipped with HEPA filters will reduce the amount of dust and contaminants that reenter the air.

Integrating janitorial equipment in your floor cleaning program can also make your facility safer for your guests.

If you’re using a mop and bucket to clean your floors, switching to cleaning with an auto scrubber will dry your floors faster, minimizing the risk of slips and falls in your building.

After evaluating your budget, resources, and goals, and prioritizing your needs, wants, and must-haves, the next step is to ensure you currently have or will have the right floor finish to meet your goals and objectives.

Remember, a floor care program is built around a floor finish.

The floor finish you apply to your commercial floors will ultimately determine how often your janitorial staff will need to complete maintenance procedures.

What’s the Best Floor Finish For My Facility?

Every floor finish is different and unique in its properties, in addition to the protection, appearance, and durability they offer.

The floor finish you choose for your facility should provide adequate shine while also being able to withstand the foot traffic your facility gets during the day.

Some are manufactured to be high shine and provide a superior gloss while others are constructed to be extremely durable therefore offering a reduced shine but ultimately requiring less maintenance.

As discussed earlier, your goals, budget, and resources will affect the type of floor finish you select to maintain your floors.

For example, high-shine floor finishes require a lot of maintenance, which in turn means you’ll need to allocate more labor hours, products, and equipment to your floor care routine. If you cannot afford the extra labor, you might benefit from a lower maintenance floor finish.

There are 6 factors that should be considered when selecting a floor finish. These factors are:

  1. Floor Material
  2. Maintenance Required
  3. Green Certification Requirements
  4. Desired Gloss Level
  5. Durability
  6. Solids Content

For a more in-depth look at how these factors will affect the floor finish you choose to apply to your commercial hard floors, read our article:

How to Choose the Best Floor Finish For Your Facility: Types & Considerations

Once you’ve chosen the best floor finish for your commercial floors, you’re ready to go on to the next step, selecting the best supplies.

Chapter 2: What Supplies Do I Need To Maintain My Commercial Floors?

As we mentioned above, the specific products that you include in your floor care program depend heavily on your budget, available labor, and your desired appearance.

Traditional, low-cost commercial cleaning tools can be used to clean your floors regardless of your budget, however, they may require additional time and manual labor from your janitorial staff.

Productivity-boosting commercial cleaning tools and equipment can be used to achieve the best clean possible, quickly and easily. Unlike traditional tools, new equipment may be more expensive but will reduce the amount of time spent cleaning, saving you money on labor costs over time.

Whether you’re using traditional floor cleaning equipment or you opt for productivity-boosting tools, you should know how they can be used to keep your floors clean and well maintained.

Essential Floor Care Tools


The first step for most floor cleaning procedures is removing loose dirt and debris from the floor.

A broom is used to remove large soils and debris, like large dirt particles, small trash items, and wrappers, from the floor.

Brooms come in various sizes in order to accommodate the size of the room being cleaned.

If your staff is cleaning a large open area, they should use a large broom and sweep from one side of the space to the other. Large brooms make sweeping more efficient and productive.

In areas that are more congested, a smaller broom will allow staff to reach and clean under furniture and behind objects.

Brooms can also be used to sweep stairways. Dirt and debris should be swept down and collected on the final stair.

In the event that there is no noticeable debris on the floor, sweeping with a broom can be replaced by using a dust mop.

Dust Mop

A dust mop is a commonly used tool for removing loose soil to prepare for cleaning. Dust mops pick up and trap dry soils.

There are different types of dust mops depending on the specific needs of your facility.

Disposable dust mop heads are beneficial if your facility doesn’t have the ability to launder reusable mop heads.Mops-1

Not only can disposable mop heads be easily disposed of and replaced, but they also reduce the risk of cross-contamination as you clean between different areas in your facility. Disposable mop heads should be discarded after use.

Reusable dust mop heads have to be properly washed and dried after each use. These mop heads are made with stronger fibers that can withstand repeated washing.

Even though dust mops are commonly used to prep floors, they aren’t very efficient. Dust mops can release dirt and dust into the air if shaken or lifted from the floor prematurely.

In order to avoid re-releasing floor contaminants back onto the floor, vacuums can be used to remove dirt from your floors.

Wet Mop

Rubbermaid Pulse Flat Mop System

Wet mops can be used to complete a wide range of cleaning procedures, including everyday cleaning, applying floor strippers, and floor disinfection.

Mops differ in absorbency, durability, size, and more. The different types of mops can be used for different procedures in your facility.

The type of mop your cleaning team will use on your facility’s floors depends on the procedure being performed, the type of chemical being used, and your budget.

A microfiber mop, for example, is better suited for everyday cleaning than cotton mops because they eliminate the risk of linting and reduce cross-contamination.

To learn more about the factors that affect the type of mop you’ll use to maintain your commercial hard floors, check out our article:

Commercial Floor Mops 101: The Best Wet Mop for Every Application

For more efficient and effective floor cleaning, you can use an automatic floor scrubber.

Productivity-Boosting Floor Cleaning Tools And Equipment

Commercial Vacuum

Vacuums are very efficient at removing dirt, dust, and debris from your facility’s floors.

While, traditionally, hard floors were swept to prepare them for cleaning procedures, vacuums can offer a more effective clean.

A vacuum can be equipped with a HEPA filter, which traps 99.97% of particles larger than .3 microns. With a HEPA filter, particles won’t be redeposited into the air, which not only improves your cleaning efficiency but also has a positive impact on your building’s indoor air quality (IAQ).

There are 5 different types of commercial vacuums you can choose from, depending on the productivity goals and needs of your facility. We recommend that you use either a backpack or canister vacuum for hard floors.

To learn more about the different types of vacuums that are available, you can read our article:

5 Types of Commercial Vacuums: Which is Best For Your Facility?

One important type of commercial vacuum is a wet-dry vacuum. Wet-dry vacuums are specifically designed to pick up wet residue from floors. These vacuums are used for slurry removal from commercial hard floors during procedures like stripping floor finish from your floors.

Vacuums can also be automated to increase productivity. Autonomous vacuums don’t need your janitorial staff to operate them, so while your floors are being cleaned, you can redeploy your cleaning staff.

How Much Does A Vacuum Cost?

Interested in purchasing a vacuum for your facility? We’ve put together an article to give you an in-depth look at how much a commercial vacuum will cost:

How Much Does A Commercial Vacuum Cost: 9 Factors That Affect Price

Auto Scrubber

An automatic floor scrubber, also called an auto scrubber, is a floor cleaning machine that applies a cleaning solution to the floor, cleans through agitation, and dries floors all in one pass.

While mopping your floors is one way to clean your facility’s hard floors, using an auto scrubber speeds up the process using a floor pad that scrubs as it passes over your floors.

There are 3 different types of automatic floor scrubbers, depending on the specific needs of your facility and cleaning team.

  • Upright ScrubberClarke MA10 12E Upright Scrubber-1

Upright floor scrubbers are vertical standing machines that are effective at cleaning areas 500-1,000 square feet.

They can be used to clean tight and hard-to-reach areas with ease, but aren’t very efficient in cleaning open areas.

Are you interested in adding an upright scrubber to your facility? Find out the 5 Best Upright and Micro Auto Floor Scrubbers Of 2022.

  • Walk-Behind Automatic Scrubber

Walk-behind automatic floor scrubbers perform the best in open areas. They can be used to clean areas between 1,000-150,000 square feet.